White evangelicals are the least likely faith group in the United States to get vaccinated for COVID-19, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center.
Additional data sent to The Christian Post from a Pew survey conducted in February of 10,121 U.S. adults found that 54% of white evangelicals “definitely or probably” plan on getting vaccinated or already have received at least one vaccination shot, the lowest of any religious demographic surveyed.
Overall, 64% of black Americans surveyed said they would “definitely or probably” get vaccinated or already have been, along with 77% of Catholics and 71% of the religiously unaffiliated.
Of all the religious groups, atheists are the most likely to say they will get vaccinated, with 90% saying they plan to or already have gotten vaccinated. Eighty percent of agnostics said the same. Among the religious “nones,” 64% said they would “definitely or probably” get a vaccine or already received at least one vaccine shot.
The survey, which has a sampling error of plus or minus 1.6 percentage points, also found that white evangelicals are also the least likely faith demographic to consider their overall community's health effect when it comes to deciding whether to get vaccinated.
Just 48% of white evangelicals said they would consider community health effects “a lot” compared to 70% of black Protestants, 65% of Catholics and 68% of unaffiliated Americans.
According to the survey, 83% of Democrats either plan to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or already have been, compared to 56% of Republicans.
COVID vaccines have been a controversial subject among some Christian groups.
But others, including Pope Francis and Southern Baptist Convention ethicist Russell Moore, have urged people to get the shots.
In a recent op-ed for The Washington Post, Moore and National Association of Evangelicals President Walter Kim argued that vaccines are a “cause for Christians to rejoice and to give glory to God,” identifying medicine as a “common grace, discovered by human beings but given by God.”
“We have all lost much during this pandemic. For Christians, one of the most awful aspects, apart from the deaths of those we love, is the isolation we have had from one another, along with our feelings of powerlessness to change the situation," the two evangelical leaders wrote. "The vaccines change that equation. By getting vaccinated as soon as our time is called, we can actively work for what we have been praying for — churches filled with people, hugs in the church foyer, and singing loudly together the hymns we love.”
Kim and Moore contend that the vaccines help “express our love for neighbor — especially the sick and elderly — by reducing the chance that we might inadvertently pass along a virus that could kill them.”
“All we are asked to do is to get a shot,” they contend. “As evangelical Christians, we should all hear that challenge and say ‘Amen.’”
Dr. Francis Collins, a Christian physician-geneticist and the director of the National Institutes of Health, has repeatedly discussed the safety and efficacy of the vaccines. He has encouraged Christians to seek out the truth about vaccines instead of misinformation and conspiracy theories.
“I know people are tired of hearing these messages and having to be acting upon them, but the virus does not care that we are tired,” he said during an online conversation about COVID-19 vaccines with Moore.
“The virus is having a wonderful time right now spreading through this country, taking advantage of circumstances where people have let their guard go down. We need to be just absolutely rigorously adherent to things that we know work. But they don’t work unless everybody actually sticks to them faithfully without exception.”